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Learning the Securities Industry: Lessons from a Panel of Experts

This time last year, I developed a newfound love of securities law while I was studying for my Corporations final. Locked in a study room with my study partner, outlining the elements of classical insider trading and the misappropriation theory, I discovered an area of law that was new and very interesting to me. The following semester, I enrolled in a mix of business and securities law classes to learn more about the intersections between the two areas. I even enrolled in accounting (which I found fascinating).  Despite having worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission as an Honors Intern for this past semester, I still have only scratched the surface of the industry.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a securities panel at Howard University School of Law. Our Investor Justice Clinic professors organized a group of panelists from the securities industry, including a law firm partner, litigation associate, a leader at FINRA, and an executive of an investment banking firm, to discuss their experience learning (and excelling) in the securities industry. Because I had been searching for the best way to continue learning about the industry after taking several securities law classes, one of my biggest takeaways from the event was their advice on a reading list.

  1. Wall Street Journal: A daily publication reporting the day to day changes in U.S. markets, focusing heavily on daily national financial news.
  2. Financial Times: Another daily publication reporting on market changes. This publication has more of an international focus.
  3. Bloomberg BusinessWeek: A weekly publication with longer articles highlighting the market changes across the week with commentary and opinion pieces on their longer-term effects.
  4. The Economist: Another weekly publication with longer articles, and now, daily videos. The longer articles generally have an in-depth explanation of the social and policial impacts of economic changes in the U.S. and around the world.

Finally, the panelists encouraged us to take on a longer-term goal. FINRA offers the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam for young professionals entering the securities markets. While it does require preparation, the exam tests knowledge of capital markets, the various securities products, trading regulations, and the securities regulatory framework. Successful completion of the exam certifies the test-taker for four years. Find more information on the SIE here.

The panel discussion touched on many other practical topics and advice on how to a learn about the securities industry while in law school, including selecting courses and applying for internships with the SEC, FINRA, and other SROs (Self-Regulatory Organizations). I found the reading list the most helpful because there is so much to learn. Reading these publications for 30 - 45 minutes in the morning over the last two weeks has expanded my knowledge already!

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